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Formula 1

Porsche/Audi F1 entries may help revive German Grand Prix

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
5 min read

The expected Porsche and Audi Formula 1 entries could be key to the revival of the German Grand Prix, although Sebastian Vettel has doubts the race will return.

Germany’s last major run of races ended in 2014, after which its F1 presence switched to a biennial race in Hockenheim as the Nurburgring was unable to continue an annual rotation.

The country has been absent from the last two F1 calendars and its most recent race, the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, was only possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Hockenheim and Nurburgring have stated their interest in hosting a race again but as F1’s calendar swells, higher-paying grands prix and ‘destination’ events have been a bigger priority for F1.

One potential boost for Germany could be the fact Porsche and Audi are set to have F1 entries in 2026, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess claimed this week there are “plans” for F1 to return to Germany in the future.

Diess also indicated a desire for the Porsche/Audi teams to have a German driver.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali was careful not to name these anticipated entries but implied they could have a role to play in Germany’s future in an investor call on Friday.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship German Grand Prix Race Day Hockenheim, Germany

“Europe has to stay with a good bunch of races in our calendar,” he said.

“They will stay. And the German landscape is for sure a very interesting landscape on which no matter who will be the promoter, we need to see what could be the action, if needed, that we can recover that [race] in the calendar.

“I’m sure if you want to be specific on that, something that could happen soon could be very important [for Germany] to be back on the calendar.”

The “something that could happen soon” is almost certainly a reference to two of Germany’s most famous brands entering the championship.

However, this is unlikely to simply spur F1 into goodwill and offer Hockenheim or Nurburgring a cut-price deal.

Porsche or Audi would need to either make a direct financial contribution to the race, as Mercedes did when it sponsored the grand prix in 2019, or have enough influence to attract a backer.

And as this would likely tie in with their entries in 2026, that would almost certainly come too late for four-time world champion Vettel to experience a home grand prix again.

“I don’t know if Germany will make it in time for me,” he said when asked by The Race.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Eifel Grand Prix Race Day Nurbugring, Germany

“Obviously I had the privilege to race in Germany for many years.

“I think in the end if you look at the places where we’re going, I think Germany’s not prepared to pay that sort of money to have the grand prix. As simple as that.

“Other regions, other countries in Europe are struggling. Spa is a very good example. It’s a shame what we saw last year with the rain cancelling the race and the people not getting a refund on their tickets. But to blame Spa would be wrong, because they are already struggling to make up the money they lose in the first place.

“I don’t know, I’m not the developer of this sport and I’m not setting the business plan and the targets, but clearly you can see the places we’re going and the new venues we are going.

“It’s great to explore, but it’s also money-driven – I guess for the sport to develop the way they want it to develop.

“It is a shame missing out on Germany, it would be a shame losing Spa, it would be a shame losing Spain – which there was a lot of talk about.

“If those countries are not ready to pay the high entry fees anymore they will fall off the list and that would be a shame.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Sprint Day Monza, Italy

“Certainly some races you’d think have a guarantee, such as Silverstone, Monza. But I don’t know, we’ll see what happens in the next years.

“It would be great, to answer your question, if Germany came back on the calendar.

“But I doubt it.”

While Vettel is pessimistic, his fellow German Mick Schumacher, the son of F1 legend Michael, spoke in more upbeat terms.

Asked by The Race if a home race is something he believes is possible or seems unrealistic, Schumacher said: “Germany has been part of Formula 1 for so long. It will be a shame not to bring it back.

“And with Volkswagen Group coming into the sport, it would be amazing to have a home race.

“To be able to race in front of a home crowd would be something unforgettable.”

Schumacher made his F1 debut last year so has not competed in a grand prix in Germany.

He was meant to take part in FP1 at the Nurburgring for Alfa Romeo but poor weather meant no running took place.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship German Grand Prix Race Day Hockenheim, Germany

However, he has participated in an F1 weekend in Germany in one capacity – driving his father’s 2004 Ferrari at Hockenheim in 2019.

“Just thinking about it brings goosebumps back, because it was just so special,” said Schumacher.

“The whole moment, being in that car, having all those people there.

“And just being somewhat of a part of that time was something very special.

“I think it gave me a good idea of how it could be to be back.”

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